What do Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, and Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey of WeWork have in common? They’re all founders of incredibly successful businesses who recognized the benefits of a collaborative work environment.
While the ad execs in Mad Men sat alone in their private offices on Madison Avenue in Manhattan struggling to find inspiration for the ad slogans of yesteryear, today’s businesses recognize that sharing ideas is a better route to innovation and inspiration.
Companies that leverage the benefits of collaboration get farther faster by creating a collaborative work environment that allows employees and their ideas to thrive.
What Is A Collaborative Working Environment?
Collaboration is when two or more people work together to achieve a common goal. Businesses can foster a collaborative work environment by letting employees easily communicate and work together. When this happens, people naturally feel that they’re contributing to something bigger and better than just themselves.
A recent article in Forbes noted that workers who collaborate are more focused and engaged, have lower fatigue and stress levels, and have far greater levels of success than their solitary co-workers.
How To Create A Collaborative Environment Mindset
Creating the right mindset is one of the best ways to help solitary workers become part of the team and contribute to the group dynamic.
Five ways to create a collaborative environment mindset are:
- Have a clear mission – the more exciting the mission, the more workers will want to be part of the team that contributes to the success of the company.
- Define individual and group roles – when people know what’s expected of them, they’ll work more effectively with less conflict.
- Set goals for the team – setting measurable goals makes it easy to measure progress and reduces confusion.
- Understand individual strengths and weaknesses – focusing on individual strengths rather than avoiding weaknesses lets people contribute to the team in a winning way.
- Emphasize inclusion and cohesion – include people in decision making, and set goals and objectives together.
Top Benefits Of Collaboration
Once a collaborative environment in the workplace is created, productivity will increase exponentially and management will see their efforts in creating a collaborative work environment pay off.
Top benefits of collaborative work include:
- Innovation is increased when employees feel free to collaborate and explore new ideas, even if they don’t succeed. Rather than the fear of failure, workplace collaboration encourages innovation and fresh thinking from the entire team.
- Morale is boosted when an individual’s thoughts, ideas, and skills contribute to the success of the group and the business as a whole.
- Productivity grows when collaboration replaces overly-formal organizational processes and bureaucracy. Businesses that support collaboration in the workplace reduce the need for formal hierarchy and accelerate the speed of progress and innovation.
- Working remotely becomes less isolating and more engaging when employees can contribute and collaborate no matter where they are.
- Time and money are saved because workplace collaboration reduces meetings and ‘spreadsheet management’. Instead of attending seemingly endless meetings and updating spreadsheets, workers can devote more effort directly to decision-making and solving problems.
- Agility and flexibility are increased when workers collaborate. Change happens in business, and collaborative work environments let staff adjust quickly and easily to changing priorities and goals without jeopardizing deadlines.
Recognizing And Rewarding Collaborative Workers
Creating a collaborative work environment is only part of the job. Businesses also need to give employees a way to celebrate the success of their collaborative efforts. One way of doing this is to talk about how it all came together.
Videos, podcasts, newsletters and annual reports are all great vehicles to share collaboration success stories. Doing this helps to recognize the accomplishments of the group while highlighting the role that each individual made toward the group’s success. Bonuses for collaborative efforts and performance rewards are two other ways that management can emphasize how important collaborative work is in setting values and driving the business.
A Collaborative Work Environment Is Just The Beginning
Creating a consistent and purposeful collaborative work environment can directly contribute to the long-term success of a business. When companies regularly invest resources into workplace collaboration and offer rewards for collaborative success, workers feel that they’re making a difference.
People who know that they’re doing something that counts are willing to work harder and longer to help the team and its company win. Collaborative work environments are successful because they create a shared sense of meaning and purpose that leads to a first-place finish for the team and its company.